Food is an enormous part of life. It encapsulates multiple facets of living. People express themselves through cooking and make it into an act that can be artistic, therapeutic, cultural, and full of emotion. The final product of cooking is not just about the experience or the final result, but it also plays a big role in our society in relation to health and nutrition. It is no wonder that there are thousands upon thousands of websites to guide the populous through the world of fine cuisine and healthy eating. However, there was only one website recognized by the 2006 Webby Awards with two awards for the best overall website in Food & Beverage as well as the People’s Choice. This website was Epicurious.com and also took home the 2006 WebAward for Outsutstanding Achievement in Website Development. Epicurious imparts the following links to direct the viewer through all of the fantastic resources and information it can provide: Recipes, Features, Cooking, Drinking, Restaurants and Shop. These links are instrumental in the exceptional quality of Epicurious. The website is informative and interactive with its users as it provides a plethora of sumptuous recipes as well as discussion forums.
On the Home page of Epicurious, a viewer can subscribe to wonderful culinary magazines like Bon Appétit and Gourmet. Users can do a Recipe search, fill out an easy online lunch planner which includes a dinner planner as well as an imaginative program called “food for thought” that allows them to select the areas of cooking that they are interested in and then point out new ideas. One may also explore the top 50 restaurants, Holiday cooking ideas as well as top cookbook reviews which are searchable by topic of food e.g. African, Asian, Belgian, health-conscious, etc. Webstyle Guide claims that “Users are not impressed with complexity that seems gratuitous.” Epicurious’s homepage, although colorful and full of graphics, is easy to use because of the uncomplicated links that directly connect the user to whatever they may be searching for. Some websites are overly colorful and distract its viewers from the actual content but the Epicurious homepage is composed of a green and white layout that is vibrant and gives an all around fresh and fun impression. The Tabs are in all capitals and in bold, providing an obvious directory to the viewer. The Pew Internet and American Life Organization sites reports on demographics of internet users, “Sixty-eight percent of American adults, or about 137 million people, use the internet.” Thus, Epicurious is probably utilized by a majority of adults over youth. Cooking is typically a responsibility taken on by adults who have enough money to have a kitchen. Epicurious is most likely used by more women than men as Pew also states that there are gender differences in Internet use, “Women are more likely to see the vast array of online information as a “glut” and to penetrate deeper into areas where they have the greatest interest.”
Pew affirms that men usually use the internet to more deeply research information regarding work or the news. Taking into account that Epicurious is not only catering to adult women, but also men, the website is not too feminine or too masculine. Websites that are mostly viewed by teenagers or youth, or websites that function as support groups or things of that nature will most likely appeal to ethos or emotion. Because Epicurious is supposed to be more of an information and resource forum, it appeals more to pathos and logos. In addition, the Internet is becoming available to more and more people. This means that a broader group of people are searching the internet. Epicurious does a good job of accommodating people of different cultures with its ethnic recipes and information.
There are many different cooking television shows that offer step by step visual directions through intricate recipes. Epicurious TV is a great tool and provided as a direct link under the Features tab. The show’s hosts, Michael Lomonaco and Tanya Steel rave about their series, “we discover some of the globe’s most delicious cuisines, meet over a dozen of America’s top chefs, and learn how to re-create these flavors at home.” Epicurious TV is not just a weekly cooking show, rather, it surveys the talents of a variety of chefs and delves into the wealth of knowledge that only an International culinary exchange could provide. Thus, this device is interactive as it acts as a portal to other forms of media globally.
Life is composed of different occasions and seasons. For each of these circumstances, there are appropriate foods and delicacies, just as there are appropriate clothing ensembles. A good recipe is hard to come by, especially when preparing a meal for a larger group of people. Allergies, likes, dislikes, and health factors have to be taken into consideration. Epicurious presents a solution to this problem with its advanced recipe searches where you can cross-reference different topics. For example, under the recipes tab, you can look for recipes that are healthy for the family, that include fish, and that exclude nuts. You can even get down to specifics in your search by selecting from an array of different health options like high fiber, low calorie, etc. There are also different links to find the recipes that are most commented on or the recipes that are the most popular so that the viewer can see which recipes were most enjoyed by other viewers. Epicurious also offers another advanced interactive device called Epi-To-Go, which will send recipes to a cellular phone. Not only is it easy and convenient to access all the culinary information needed from a computer, but now all you need is a cell-phone.
For the same reason that many watch cooking television shows, users will appreciate the Cooking tab that Epicurious offers. The helpful How-To Link includes Chef’s tips that give advisement on things like baking, cleanup, cutting fat and calories, etc. The website offers technique videos as well, which have real chefs show several cooking fundamentals for a hands-on culinary guidance. Probably the most fun of the links that Epicurious presents is the holiday cooking link. There are hundreds of different recipes from Christmas to Valentine’s Day to Kwanza and for every holiday imaginable in between. In addition, there is a sub-link for Healthy cooking, and another for “everyday meals” which gives recipes for quick and easy meals to prepare. It is very helpful to have a resource that not only shares how to prepare a quick and easy meal, but also one that shares how to prepare that meal in a health-conscience way. It is also fun to be able to incorporate seasonal ingredients into one’s cooking according to the time of year. The link “Home for the Harvest” provides information of this light so that one does not miss the prime seasons for anything from tomatoes, to pomegranates, to a specific brand of apples. The title of this link changes through the seasons to give information on which fruits and vegetables are in season at the time. One should not forget that part of the cooking experience is about one’s own self-enjoyment throughout the process and not just the final result of one’s efforts. Changing up one’s usual set of recipes by using different seasonal fruits and vegetables or cooking for a fun event or holiday are ways to be more creative and let loose in the kitchen. There are many creative recipes that include all of the in-season vegetables. The most interactive aspect of Epicurious is the “Kitchen Counsel Forum” link which enables web-goers to share their own favorite recipes and tips with fellow viewers. One of the most fun aspects of cooking is the ability to share recipes with one another and to discover new ways to cook something different. Accessing knowledge from world-famous chefs and experts is always helpful and enlightening, however, sometimes the best recipes are from peers and friends. Cooking is not just about fine dining and main courses. It is about the company that one share during the meals. The Food and Wine dictionaries are incredibly helpful with their expansive and guiding information on everything from pino wine to fragua. After all, it is always a proud moment for a person when talking with another person at the dinner table and they actually understand the entire culinary lingo. Also helpful to cooking-lingo fluency is being knowledgeable about etiquette. One of the sub-tabs under the Cooking Link is the “Reference” tab which provides tips on etiquette, as well as a handy guide for herbs and spices.
Besides the enjoyment of cooking itself and the company one shares their meals with, the culinary experience would be incomplete without the enhancing qualities of beverages. Food and Beverages go hand in hand. Many meals go great with certain wines, and some fruits bring out the unique tastes of a chardonnay. Epicurious provides The Drinking Tab which offers a lot of information about different brews and beers, wines, chardonnays, as well as recipes for nonalcoholic drinks. It also teaches the user how to make mixed cocktails, smoothies, and even home-made healthy juices.
Enjoying food, however, is not all about doing one’s own cooking. Going out to new restaurants is a big part of the complete culinary experience. It is often difficult to find a truly good restaurant. The Restaurants Tab indicates different restaurants throughout different cities and states that are rated by many users in order to show which are most celebrated, which are considered by other users to be average, and which are rated as down-right bad. We all have many favorite dishes from restaurants that we wish we could emulate. Epicurious enables one to search for one’s favorite restaurant, and then find the recipe.
Even if one does find the perfect recipe from their favorite restaurant, certain recipes call for certain special cooking utensils. It is difficult to visit so many different stores to buy the necessary culinary tools. Epicurious also functions as an online store for gourmet foods, cookbooks, gourmet travel, coffee and espresso, healthy cooking, kitchenware, prepared meals, baking, fresh fruits and meats, domino home shop, wine, and seasonal favorites.
Epicurious is a fantastic website. It is unique in that it proves to be interactive with its viewers rather than only a source of information. It allows a trading of information between viewers as well as creative and imaginative links. However, nothing is perfect. Epicurious could most certainly be improved. For instance, if there was a link for presentation. Part of the culinary experience is not just the food itself, or the process, but the expression in the final product. Especially for festive occasions, or celebrative gatherings, many people love to be decorative and creative when presenting a meal that took a lot of time and effort to make. Ingredients are also very important, as the E coli scare is clearly enforcing. Epicurious could improve the helpfulness of the website by including a link that would inform the viewer as to how to choose different ingredients and how to test their freshness before including them in a meal. The Food and Wine dictionaries are wonderfully helpful, but they could be improved if they included information like which wines are best suited for which meals. For example, some wines are intended for desserts and some are intended for spicy entrees. Another perk would be if there were tips for where to purchase certain hard-to-find wines or cooking tools. Perhaps mentioning such places would help with advertisement and thus, provide more funding. The site is more focused on the commercial and the personal. It is not a very stiff website in the language, coloring, and graphics. The website caters to individuals, rather than one large pool of viewers. After all, there are links for people of many different cultures, cities, and capabilities. Thus, because the website offers information from fundamental cooking tips to creative new recipes for the more experienced chef, viewers of this site are probably of at least their twenties to their late sixties. The site’s purpose is to inform. Although the site teaches how to entertain, the site itself does not entertain.
At the end of the day, many people find it difficult to then commit themselves to creating a full meal. Thus, it is almost inevitable that one forgets that cooking can be fun, exciting, and enlightening. People forget that cooking is about the journey of the act itself, and that the experience can be a release rather than an obligatory duty. Epicurious is an outstanding tool to open the eyes of people in these situations. The website proves to be not only revealing and resourceful, but interactive and wealthy in creativity and imagination. Check out the Epicurious website for fun tips, informative references, and inventive recipes.